Letter to Myself: 14 Years Old

Not too long ago, I wrote an article here that contained a letter to a younger version of myself. The writing of it was quite therapeutic and in that moment I decided I was going to do this a couple times, targeting various ages and turning points in my life. The first post in this series was when I was 8 years old. I had just moved to California, leaving a lot of my family and close friends behind. In the year I moved to California I went to 2 different schools and lived in 2 houses, forcing myself to make new friends all around, a few of which I am still friend with today.

Deciding on the next age range to write about was not easy, as the next 5 years of my life were difficult, as they are for anyone. I made it through Elementary school with headgear and neck-gear, braces and retainers. I then got into Middle School, had my Bar Mitzvah and overall just had a hard time fitting in. Because of this, I decided to write to my 14 year old self. One year removed from my Bar Mitzvah and the end of my Middle School life in 8th grade and the start of High School and a new direction that would change my life.

Hello 14 year old me,

Life has been interesting these last few years, hasn’t it? As I write to you from your future, I know how difficult things were for you. To say you went through an awkward phase would be selling it short. But, who isn’t going through an awkward phase right now? You started off with a big growth spurt, taller than all of your friends, but then it seemed everyone else went through puberty before you… but don’t worry, you will get there.

Now that you are 14, life is really going to change for you. 8th grade will be fun. You will rule the school and be on top. You will also be on the basketball team, and although you will not play much, the coach will reward you for your heart and effort. Never lose that (seriously). If I could give you any advice, I would really say to pay attention to your school work, especially on the foreign languages. I know its not easy, but you will truly appreciate being able to speak another language later in life.

Aside from working hard in school, keep a good head on your shoulder. Sure this year you will be the king of the school in 8th grade, but next year it is off to high school where you will be the bottom of the barrel. High School will be an interesting time for you as you will hang out with the wrong crowd. Not that you get into trouble, but you actually think you are cooler than you actually are, and the people you try to hang out with, will often wonder why you are with them. You will give up all sports this year and focus primarily on swimming, which will be a huge decision. But these other swimmers are your friends and where you should be spending your time. They are all great students and they are your true friends. High School will be much better and enjoyable if you know your friends and your place from the start.

Continue to work hard, both in school and in the pool. You do not know it yet, but you are starting to set a lot in motion for your life. Your work ethic and attention to detail starts now, otherwise you will be working double time for the rest of your life. College will be easier if you learn more in High School. Have a little fun, too while you are at it. But school needs to come first, and then swimming. Know who your friends are and try to enjoy yourself. Understand what you want out of life, not what others want from you. This will go a long way to making you happier.

Talk you you again in a few years,
34 year old me (you)

Understanding who you are is a part of growing up, and if we had all only listened to our parents at that age and believed them, life would be so much easier. Obviously, I probably wouldnt have changed much, considering I am where I am in life thanks to all of this. However, if I knew then what I know now, and could still end up with my current situations, I think that would be the perfect situation, don’t you?

What would you say to yourself if you could go back to that age and have a conversation, or write a letter. As I started off this post saying, thinking about this is quite therapeutic and it allows me to explore feelings I had then and look back on how that all helped to shape me. I encourage you to do the same!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Keeping Busy and Growing a Mustache

I know, I know, it has been a long time (again) since I last posted. I really am not good at this… haha… but hey, I warned you!

If you have actually been wondering where I have been, the truth is, life has just been busy. Work has been fairly busy as usual and the kids have also kept me busy. School has been a lot of fun but it has also been quite busy. I am holding around 100% in BOTH of my classes and actually have a final in my Personality Psych class this week. Because of the finals and classes, lots of studying is being done as well.

Outside of work, school and my kids, I truly do not have a legitimate excuse for not updating this, other than a touch of writers block, a touch of laziness and a whole lot of mustache growing. Yes, you read that correct, I am working on my MOVEMBER Mustache.

My family is not blessed with facial hair growing genes, so unfortunately, my mustache is sort of ‘pervy’ looking, but it draws attention and I guess that is the whole point of Movember. if you are not familiar with Movember, for the month of November, Men grow their mustaches to help raise awareness for Men’s Health issues such as Prostate and Testicular cancer. I myself lost an uncle to Prostate cancer a few years back and continue to fight on his behalf.

I normally do not like to go around and ask for money, however this cause is VERY dear to my heart and I would not be gorwing this ridiculous looking mustache if I truly did not believe. if you feel so inclined you can donate at the link here: https://mobro.co/zackzucker?mc=1

I am not asking for much, I would honestly be happy if all you were able to donate was $5. Every little bit helps and I want to stand up and fight for all the men in our lives.

Please feel free to share your stories below or share my link with anyone you know.

Yesterday’s Therapy and Knowing My Path

At this point, it is no secret that I see a therapist. I have shared this before and I am not ashamed. I started seeing her at the end of last year to help me with some personal characteristics, my anxiety and anger as well as help me through some difficult times. Although things are going much better in my life I still try to see her weekly, to help with my anxiety and help keep me focused on how to get more out of my life. Yesterday was an exceptional day.

Lately things have been going really well in my life, but occasionally things come up that are hard to not focus on and anxiety can skyrocket. There was something I had had on my mind lately I was not too sure how to approach it. in my mind, it was a big deal and a huge hurdle. I was not too sure how to get past it and I needed help. My therapist didn’t even bat an eye. She helped me see this from a different point of view and took all of the “urgency” out of the problem. In reality, it was not a problem at all, and just something I had built up in my head. It is so refreshing to be able to speak to someone who helps me through this and teaches me how to view things in life differently. it truly is a game changer.

After my therapist and myself had talked about my life, marriage, work, and kids, the session was pretty much over. However, we went a little long, as we got caught up in conversation. She asked me about school and how it was going and I shared how exciting I was finding it. I have been doing really well in both of my classes and have been finding the content interesting. The hard part of doing my classes online, is that I do not get to engage in conversation as often with people about the content, but with her I could! We talked a few of the topics I had enjoyed and I was just finding it so interesting, especially when she shared info about her experiences working with people in such situations.  Through this conversation, I felt more at ease with my decision to go back to school and go after this different career. I not only enjoyed my conversation, I loved it. I loved the topic and hearing her discuss how she has worked with people. I wish I had done this earlier in life… but its never too late to go after what you want!

What value do you get out of therapy? I would love to hear some stories from others and what value you see, so if you would like, please share below!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Letter to Myself: 8 Years Old

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post asking if your 10 year old self would be happy. I got a lot of great feedback from that post and ever since I have written it, it has had me thinking about. Thinking about my life, where I was as a 10 year old and how my views on life has changed. Because of that post, I have been inspired to start a new series of articles based on letters to younger versions of myself. My goal is to choose 3-4 ages when I went through something crucial and it was a big life moment. I want to provide words of advice to myself; ideas that would improve my life if I was able to do it all again. I should preface this with I love my life (for the most part) and things are going well. But if I could have everything I have now, which a few minor tweaks to improve upon, what would those be?

Hey 8 year old me,

How is it going? You hanging in there alright? Life has been pretty rough this last year hasn’t it? Last year you moved from Tuscon, where all of your cousins lived (including your best friend/cousin) and everything you have ever known, for a small suburb outside of San Francisco. Your family rented a house last year and you finished off your 1st grade year at a new school. You are now in 2nd grade and yet again, at a new school. You have also recently gone to the orthodontist for your major overbite and now walk around with headgear…. its been rough.

I know it is cliche, but guess what: things are gonna get better. Your best friend across the street will one day be in your wedding. The house you live in now, your parents will not sell for another 20 years! You will not only grow up in this town, but you are going to thrive… for the most part.

Kid, its not a secret that you are a bit odd and awkward, but you know what, that is ok. It is a part of who you are and nobody should ever change that about you. I hope you understand that the way you are is not a problem. You have great character and you are a funny kid. Don’t worry about anyone else and what they say or think. be you. Do you. Know who your friends are, and do not worry about being the “cool” kid or the “popular” kid. Those guys do not really want to be your friend, and that is ok. This will be an ongoing lesson for you in life, but trust me: be yourself.

Anyway, continue to learn, and have fun in life: it goes way too fast. I will talk to you again in about 5 years.

Best, 33 year old you.

 

I know it is a little cheesy and other people have done this as well, but I have to admit, it is a bit liberating to write a letter to a younger version of myself. To be honest, I cannot wait to write another one!

In the comments below, feel free to share something you would tell an 8 year old version of yourself. Or write your own blog post and be sure to link to it below, and I will be sure to check it out!!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Finding Time to Enjoy Life

Two weeks ago (in my last post), I explained my absence from blogging, citing life had been busy and I also had no idea what to write about. Well not much has changed since then. Life is still extremely busy, and finding things to write about is hard for me… so I figured I may as well just update all of you with what it is I have been doing with my time.

My time has been very limited lately, as I work full time for a software/tech company, I am a dad to two amazing children, I am a devoted husband and I am now also a part time student. This does not leave a lot of room for anything else. Although while I do not have much extra time on my hands, I have been very focused on enjoying that time. Far too often in my life I have spent my extra time doing any number of things, but often I would spend it doing yard work or just laying around, napping and watching TV/ And while napping and watching TV are VERY needed at times, I am trying to spend more time doing things that make me happy. I now pay someone to do most of my yard work, which frees up a lot of time (although I still enjoy doing some of it). I also try to get my gym works outs in before work while everyone in my house is still asleep. Why waste time when everyone else is awake when I could be spending time with them?

Time management has become extremely crucial to me these days. Whether it is going to the gym early in the morning or studying for a test after everyone has gone to sleep, everything I am doing these days is all about maximizing my time, building relationships and enjoying my time with those I love. My wife and I had gone through a bit of a rough patch recently, and we have been working very hard lately to mend fences and improve our relationship. I have also been working on my relationship with my kids. It was a strong relationship before, but I am trying to be as cognizant as possible about what I say and do around them, as I know everything can affect their lives in one way or another. But above all else, I am just trying to enjoy all of my spare time as much as I can. Games with my kids, a good TV show now and then, and a good date night with my wife every couple of weeks at a minimum (last week we went and saw “IT” in the theaters. I am not normally into those types of movies, but it was a fun movie, and definitely super creepy).

Life is flying by and its a waste to spend it doing things that do not make you happy. My wife makes me happy. My kids make me happy. Doing things I enjoy make me happy… so I have spent my time with them, doing the things that make us happy.

What makes you happy? What sorts of things do you enjoy doing? Share your thoughts or comments below!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

School is Underway and My Schedule is Crazy!

I am finishing up my 2nd week of school and I have to say, life has gotten CRAZY! The first week of school, I was only attending one class (and by attending it is all online). This was a good entry for me as I was working on getting all of my classwork done while I also kept up with my job, and also making time for my kids at home. For this first week, I was not able to attend the gym as I still was not too sure how to balance my life.

This week, I unfortunately received an email from my second professor that my other class, Abnormal Psychology, had already started and I missed my first assignment. How could this be? I have been logging in weekly to check for updates as well as monitoring my email and I saw nothing… oh well. I was not dropped and I missed my first assignment (which was an introduction of myself) and missed out on 10 points. I should have been better about checking or perhaps sent out a n email to inquire when the class actually began. I have already started the homework for this week, and I was not dropped, so I should be fine. This was in line with the rest of my week however, as it was just crazy and hectic.

Wanting to start getting a better routine and schedule together, I opted to start going back to the gym this week as well, as I needed an outlet for stress release. This means either my mornings or late evenings are spent at the gym, the core of my day is at the office, and then at night I come home to spend time with my kids, put them to bed and then either do homework or go to the gym (if I had not gone in the morning). This doesn’t include time for me to go to therapy, chiropractor, or time for leisurely activities such as reading or watching some TV to relax, or time to deal with personal issues. As class picks up, I am sure I will have some weeks where I am overloaded and extremely busy and my anxiety soars through the roof. However, I am determined to get myself into a better routine and it will make it all easier. I just have to keep reminding myself why I am doing this 🙂 !

What are some of your methods when you dont feel you have time to breathe? Share your tips and tricks below, or let me know how crazy your schedule is!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Book Review: Bigger, Leaner, Stronger

To continue my summer of self improvement, I was able to read another book this summer, just before my vacation. The second book I read (after the School of Greatness) was titled ‘Bigger, Leaner, Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body’ by Michael Matthews. I actually had a few reasons for reading so much this summer. The first reasons was there was not a whole lot on tv. Second, I wanted to start getting my mind ready for school. Third, I truly want to start improving my life as much as I can in different areas. And finally, I had a Google coupon for some cheaper books, and figured I would pick a few that stood out to me (one of which is the book I am reviewing now).

Growing up , I was always very active, playing with friends, running in the street, or playing sports. As I got into High School I focused on swimming as my only sport and did everything I could to better myself. That sort of mentality has always stuck with me, especially when it comes to being in shape and taking care of myself. Overall I am in fairly good shape, with the exception of being more on the thinner side. I have always been slim… almost as if it was a curse. For the life of me, I have always had a problem gaining weight (I know some of you wish you had this problem, but for me, it is frustrating, as just like overweight people, I have body issues as well). I eat and eat and work out and never seem to be able to change my look, and that is where this book comes in,

I had recently heard about this book as it helps to debunk a lot of myths we believe about weightlifting, and it helps to focus in on what you are trying to do, and without wasting time. I have tried different workout routines, followed advice from trainer and professionals alike, and never am able to stick to a routine that has shown me results. But for some reason, I feel this time will be different. I have recently started working out following this routine and have already felt a difference in my strength. The best part about this book too is he not only tells you the science behind everything, but explains why certain things will work and others do not. From there he actually provides you not only a workout plan that fits your schedule, but he also provides you a nutritional spreadsheet too to help you maximize your gains.

At the end of the day, for me it gives me a new reason to be excited about going to the gym as well as a way to focus on my lifting and eating habits, and hope to start feeling better about myself here soon.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can check it out here.

If you want to follow Michael Matthews, you can find his Instagram here (his other social media links are on his website), and his website here.

Have you check out this book before, or have another workout read that is worth exploring? Please share your findings and results below!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Behind Every Man: Finding My Motivation and Drive to Make This Career Change

We have all probably heard the saying before that “Behind every great man, is a great woman.” This saying essentially says that every man is held up by a woman in his life, whether it is his mom, girlfriend or wife. While I do not think it is entirely accurate, in my situation I cannot help but to feel this is correct.

For the last 11+ years, I have been working in Tech/Business. My very first job was an entry level contract position at Google and I have been working my way up the corporate ladder (at various companies) since then. I started at Google right out of college and found it to be very exciting while I was there. However, even during this time, there was a part of me that was not happy. Not satisfied. I found an email I had written to my Dad a month or so after I left Google expressing my unhappiness in the corporate world. At the time I looked into going back to school as well as joining the Fire Academy. However I have outstanding injuries from my career as a collegiate swimmer and figured I would not pass a physical. I also discussed this with my then fiance (now wife) and she was very understanding and at the time encouraged me to do something I enjoyed. I looked into some options at the time, but as I have discussed in other blog posts, I felt stuck. I was engaged to be married to the woman of my dreams and all I wanted in life was to make her happy, support her and give her everything I felt she deserved. At this time, I decided the best option for me was to stick it out in the corporate world, find a job I enjoyed and make my money.

For years I bounced around between jobs, focusing on what parts I enjoyed, and trying to “fix” the areas that made me unhappy, After 11 years of this, I have found that overall, this line of work just isn’t for me. I had to find my passion. This is where the title of this blog post comes in. For me, my motivation and my change came from my wife.

A few years ago, my wife started a side business making hair accessories for kids. it started out slow, but as it grew I could see her excitement with it. Over time we discusses what she wanted out of this and what she wanted to do. At the time, she told me her goal was to build the company up enough that she no longer had to work her day to day job, could potentially get enough people to help run the company, that she could spend more time at home with the kids. As her business grew, I enjoyed very much helping her, build the business and achieve her dreams. I worked harder to find a better job for myself so that I could help support her and to help her quit her day to day and go with this full time. Near the end of 2015, we realized how closer we were. But we also needed more space. My wife’s business was taking up a good portion of our house, and with our growing family we needed more space. I was thinking about leaving my job then to do what I am doing now, but we needed the money to buy a bigger house and to help her expand. Last year we not only were able to buy a new house, but my wife was able to quit her job and do her side business full time! The drive and motivation she has shown over the last few years to get something she wanted, gave me the motivation to escape my unhappiness in the corporate world, and to do what I needed to find that occupational pleasure I was missing (which was ultimately spreading negativity to the rest of my life).

I have discussed this at length with my wife as well, and have her full support in going back to school and that we will be able to make it work. And while there are some other unforeseen circumstances that have come into this, and she has been on the fence for some time whether or not she made the right decision, I feel that had she not made this move, she may have always regretted.  I cannot thank her enough for her support and her leading by example.

Everyone finds motivation in different places in their life. Some have a friend or family member. Others loo up to those trailblazers and leaders of their field of interest. Where do you find your motivation? What is your inspiration. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

The Art of Self-Discipline

As I have now mentioned numerous time (and will likely mention again… that is what I do), I do not enjoy writing. One of those reasons is that I have a hard time of coming up with things to write about. Because of this, I started to keep a task list of different blog titles and what to write about. Today’s blog post, for the last month was actually geared to be written as part of the “Self-Improvement series” articles I have written in the past (and will write about again in the future).

I wanted to write about Self-Discipline, my struggles with this and what I am doing to work on it. However, a couple weeks ago, I was speaking with my therapist about this and she helped me really see this differently. For as long as I can remember, I have always felt that I have struggled with self-discipline (as I am sure many of you have as well). I feel that far too often I start something and never finish. In all honesty, I am surprised I am still writing blog posts!! Far too often I will do things such as starting a new gym routine, or eating healthier or reading more books…. and then after a week, a month or maybe a year, I slip up and find myself back exactly where I started.

Now in reality, this is something I still need to work on, so it does fit in line with my self-improvement process. However, I have come to learn I am not as big a failure at this as I originally thought. As it turns out, this is common. Extremely common. The problem is not that I lack self-discipline. In reality, the fact I am attempting these things shows the drive and determination needed to have self-discipline. My problem is that I am attempting to do something, that I do not generally like, alone. If I was extremely happy and loved what I was doing, the motivation to do this would be easier. I love going to the gym for example, however after a period of time, the routine gets boring and I no longer enjoy it and I find it harder to go. Eating healthy is easy at first because I feel better and see results, however I am such a picky eater I end up craving some sweets, and before I know it, I have consumed 4 Cinnabon’s in 3 days.

In speaking with my therapist, the secret I have discovered to this, is that failure rate when going about these things alone, is much higher than when you do these things with others. I.e. if you are having trouble going to the gym, get a gym partner? Not eating well? Get a friend to eat well with you. Do not enjoy writing or journaling? Come up with a good topic about something you are passionate about and start a blog. A blog that others are reading and keep you accountable for continuing to write. For me, I feel as if I am letting my readers (the handful of you who keep coming back) down.

So the truth is, I do not necessarily lack self-discipline. I lack the support to do a lot of what is needed of me. For years I have been unhappy with my job and my motivation to stay has always been to support my family. But that in itself has caused problems. My wife has always supported me going back to school, but that is now just becoming a reality. And with her support, and the support of the rest of my family, and my drive to help others and be happy, is all the self-discipline I need to better my life.

Do you struggle with Self-Discipline? What are some of your secrets to staying on track? Please share your secrets below, or any other comments you may have!

Please also feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Book Review: The School of Greatness

If you have been following along on my other posts, you know by now that I am not a big fan of writing. I do it because it is actually a bit of a stress release and a way to share my story. Along with writing, there are a lot of other things I am not a fan of, but tend to do them anyway. One of which is reading. Although I say this, I actually do enjoy reading once I start, but my mind almost feels as if it is a chore. I on average read a book every 1-3 months. Not that it takes me that long but because I am exhausted by the time I am done. Although lately, as I am on this path towards resurrecting myself, I have taken the time to read a handful of books, and I hope to share some reviews of each of them as well.

The first book I want to share with you was written by a man that honestly opened my eyes and has helped me restart my path in life. The book is titled ‘The School of Greatness” and it was written by a self-made man, an inspirational author, speaker and podcaster: Lewis Howes. I first came across Lewis when listening to his podcast. Every week he is interviewing special people who do extraordinary things. Whether they are authors, speakers, entrepreneurs, dancers, they all have something in common: they had a passion or a drive to follow their dreams and do what they love. Lewis has somewhat of the same story as he was a professional football player in the Arena Football League until he broke his arm. He was living on his sisters couch and decided he needed to do something. He followed his passions and worked hard and has made millions in the process.

When I found out that “The School of Greatness” was not just a podcast, but also a book, I wasted no time in buying it. This book outlines passions and drive and identifying those within yourself and driving towards them. As I have mentioned about me is that I had lost that somewhere along the way, became complacent and went the safe route. I constantly felt stuck and dreaded having to look forward to this life as I moved on. Listening to Lewis and reading his book has been an instrumental part of my journey. For anyone who is searching for their drive in life, business or relationship, I highly recommend this book (and his podcast). Lewis is also extremely active on Social Media, so I suggest you check out his Instagram as well (or really any of his social media outlets as listed at the bottom of this page).

Have you read this book? if so, please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Or perhaps there is another book similar to this you recommend? I would love to hear about it!

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.